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Bombay High Court
Dr. Vishwanath Raghuvir Sinai … vs Shri Ashok Dattatray Dande & … on 2 December, 1999
Equivalent citations: 2000 (4) BomCR 734
Author: R Khandeparkar
Bench: R Khandeparkar


ORDER

R.M.S. Khandeparkar, J.

1. Common question of law arises in both these revision applications and therefore, they were heard together and are being disposed of by this common judgment.

2. Both the revision applications arise from the order dated 16th February 1999 passed in Regular Civil Appeal No. 54 of 1998 and Regular Civil Appeal No. 55 of 1998 by the Additional District Judge at Panaji. By the impugned order, the lower Appellate Court has held that the appeal against the unamended as well as amended decree in Special Civil Suit No. 382 of 1979-A passed by the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Panaji would lie before the District Court considering the valuation of the suit.

3. The contention of the petitioner is that the suit was initially valued at Rs. 10,810/-. However, the value of the decree ultimately granted by the trial Court exceeded the quantum of Rs. 1,00,000/-. There is no dispute that in case the value of the suit is Rs. 1,00,000/- or above, then the appeal against the decree of the Trial Court in such suit would lie to the High Court whereas in case of suit valued at less than Rs. 1,00,000/-, the appeal against the decree passed therein would lie to the District Court. The contention of the petitioner is that the valuation for the purpose of deciding the forum of appeal should be one which is disclosed from the final decree passed in the suit and not one which is disclosed in the plaint by the plaintiff while filing the suit.

4. In this connection, Shri S.G. D’ Sa, learned Sr. Advocate appearing for the respondents, placing reliance upon the decision of Full Bench of this Court in the matter of Kazi Syed Saifuddin v. Kasturchand, has submitted that the forum of appeal would depend upon the valuation of the suit as disclosed in the plaint and not on the valuation of the ultimate relief that is granted by the decree.

5. The question, therefore, which arises for determination is whether the value of the subject-matter as fixed in the plaint should determine the Court to which appeal lies or whether the value of the ultimate relief granted should determine the appellate forum?

6. There is no dispute that the jurisdiction of the trial Court depends upon the valuation disclosed in the plaint. Indeed, in terms of section 6 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Court depends upon the amount or the value of the subject-matter of the suit as disclosed in the plaint. The said section & provides that “save insofar as is otherwise expressly provided, nothing herein contained shall operate to give any Court jurisdiction over suits the amount or value of the subject-matter of which exceeds the pecuniary limits (if any) of its ordinary jurisdiction.” Further, section 15 of the Civil Procedure Code provides that every suit shall be instituted in the Court of the lowest grade competent to try it. In other words, the scheme of the procedure as contemplated under the Code of Civil Procedure clearly postulates that every suit has to be instituted in the Court of the lowest grade having jurisdiction to try the same. The provisions in section 6 of the Code reveals that the Court is not entitled to deal with the suits where the value of the subject-matter exceeds the pecuniary limits of the ordinary jurisdiction of such Court. These provisions, therefore clearly indicate that the value of the subject-matter of a suit is of paramount importance in determining the Court in which the suit is to be filed and tried. Besides, the right of appeal accures to the parties to a suit from the date of the institution of the suit according to the law then in force. Considering all the aspects of the matter and after considering various decisions in the matter of Butta Kannawa Chetti v. Rudrapatta Venkataparasayya A.I.R. 1919 Madras 998, Ishwarappa Mallashappa v. Dhanji Bhanji, A.I.R. 1932 Bombay 111, Gopal Trimbakrao v. Chimabai Prabhakar A.I.R. 1938 Bombay 464, Ahmedbhai Kadubhai v. Badruddin A.I.R. 1946 Bombay 356, Simla Municipal Committee v. Gurdial Singh, , Shivaji v. Deoji, , Gopalakrishna Pillai v. Meenakshi Aval, , G.L. Thokal v. R.J. Deshmukh 1975(77) Bom.L.R. 580, Ahad Mir v. Mahda Bhat, A.I.R. 1960 Jammu and Kashmir 89 and Mohinder Singh v. Jagjit Singh, , the Division Bench of this Court in the matter of Dr. Francisco Luis Jose D’ Souza v. Vithal Bhadu Tamboskar, , held thus :—

“There is no doubt that it is the value of the suit, that is, the value of the subject-matter thereof that determines the Court in which the suit is to be filed and also determines the forum of appeal, meaning by that the Court to which the appeal, lies. Now, the Suits Valuation Act, which otherwise as observed in Ahmedbhai Kadubhai v. Badruddin, A.I.R. 1946 Bombay 356, applies only to suits and not to appeals, prescribes the mode of making the valuation of the suits for the purpose of jurisdiction and in some cases, the valuation is left entirely to the discretion of the plaintiff. In such cases, it is the plaintiff’s valuation in the plaint that fixes the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Court and not the amount which may be found and decreed. This valuation is clearly distinct from the valuation for the purposes of Court fees, aim of which is, as rightly pointed out by Mr. Nadkarni, purely fiscal.”

7. In Mohinder Singh v. Jagjit Singh, , the learned Single Judge of the Punjab High Court has held that the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Court depends on the value of the right claimed in the litigation and this value has nothing to do with the amount decreed or with the form of decree that is ultimately passed in case unless there is any statutory provision which makes the jurisdictional value of suit depend on the amount decreed or on the form of the decree. The Court has further held that ordinarily the value of the suit remains constant and does not change whether the plaintiff’s suit is dismissed or is accepted partly or wholly or is accepted subject to a condition. It is well established that the jurisdictional value of the suit does not change with the form of the decree and the forum of the appeal is to be determined by the value of the suit and not by the value of the decree.

8. Similarly, in Thilagammal v. Elango and another, , the learned Single Judge of Madras High Court has held that for the purpose of fixing the forum of appeal, the value mentioned in the petition in the Court below is the only relevant factor for determining the appellate forum and the said proposition can be culled out from the decision of a Full Bench of the Madras High Court in Putta Kannayya Chetti v. Rudrapatta Venkatanarasayya, reported in A.I.R. 1918 Madras 998, wherein it was held that the amount or value of the subject-matter as fixed in the plaint should determine the Court to which the appeal lies.

9. The Full Bench of this Court in the said Kazi’s matter, white dealing with the question as to whether appeal against a decree passed in a suit for arrears of rent and for mesne profits wherein the plaint was valued at Rs. 3490/- would lie before the High Court or the District Court, has clearly held that the valuation of the appeal is governed by the valuation disclosed by the plaintiff at the time of filing of the suit and the forum of appeal is to be determined with reference to the said value of the suit and not the amount ultimately decreed. While arriving at the said finding, the Full Bench has observed thus :

“In a suit for accounts filed by a sleeping partner he may not be aware at all of the nature of profits and his possible share. Even if aware, the law permits him to notionally value the claim in the plaint. If such a suit is dismissed, then against the decree on the basis of notional valuation in the plaint, the appeal by defendant would definitely go to the District Court. If the District Court reverses the decree of dismissal and passes a decree for a sum which is more than the limits of pecuniary jurisdiction of the Trial Court (Civil Judge, Jr. Dn.) then it may be contended even at the appellate state that the Trial Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit. Thus after coming to the conclusion regarding the quantum to be awarded finally to the plaintiff, the Appellate Court will have to return the plaint for presentation to the proper Court. Similar is the case of claim in respect of future mesne profits. Future mesne profits are by their very nature profits or the income derived by the defendant during the pendency of the suit. The cause of action for the same does not accrue when the plaint is presented and in order to enable the plaintiff, a proviso is introduced to make a request to the Court for direction regarding the inquiry into future mesne profits, the quantum of which is not known to anybody at that stage. If after inquiry into future mesne profits the Court comes into a conclusion that the quantum to be awarded is beyond the pecuniary limits of the jurisdiction then it may be contended successfully that the Court had no jurisdiction to pass the preliminary decree as one of the claims made in plaint was beyond the pecuniary jurisdiction of that Court. However, in the same case, an appeal against the dismissal of the suit would nevertheless lie to the District Court. Similarly, in a suit for accounts, the law permits the plaintiff to make a notional valuation and, as already discussed, the valuation for the purpose of jurisdiction is the same which is the valuation for the purpose of Court fees as is permitted by law. If the contention that the forum of appeal is dependent on the final adjudication of the matter regarding the quantum of accounts or on the final decree than the preliminary decree may be challenged as one without jurisdiction and non est. In fact, in order to avoid such eventualities, provision has been made permitting the plaintiff to have a notional valuation and to pay the fixed Court fees and the valuation for the purposes of jurisdiction is also to be the same. If is for these simple reasons, in the decision in Ambadas v. Vishnu Gowind , the Division Bench of this Court has held that the mere fact that the decree is for an amount exceeding the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Court which passed the decree, is not ipso facto proof that it was beyond jurisdiction and a nullity and a Court is wrong in questioning in execution the validity of such a decree. This judgment is followed in the case of Brindhaban Kanhaayal Agarwal v. Kasturilal Nyahalchand Sodi and others, 1978 Mh.L.J. 561 by emphasizing that it is the value of the claim in the plaint which determines pecuniary jurisdiction of a Court and if a suit is properly filed in competent Court there is no bar to prevent a Court from passing a decree for an amount in excess of its pecuniary jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is determined by valuation in plaint and not be result of the suit.

The Full Bench of Calcutta High Court has clearly laid down in the case of Bidyadhar Bachar and others v. Mahindra Nath Pas and others that where a Judge has in the proper exercise of his jurisdiction passed a decree for possession and also a preliminary decree for mesne profits, he must be held to have jurisdiction to make a final decree in accordance with his decision. This jurisdiction is not limited. If, as a result of the inquiry directed by him, the mesne profits are found to exceed the amount of value of the suit, the suit is rightly entertained as within the jurisdiction of the Judge and a decree is passed, his power to grant the proper and adequate relief is not affected by any event which increases the value of the relief during the pendency of the suit.

In other words it can be stated that to hold that jurisdiction should depend on the amount for which the final decree is passed, would have the effect and that after the Judge passes a preliminary decree it is found after accounts are taken that the final decree must be for an amount exceeding the pecuniary limit of jurisdiction the entire proceedings before him including the decree passed should be considered as being without jurisdiction. The forum of appeal is determined with reference to the value of the suit and not the amount decreed. The plaintiff is neither required nor bound to state any amount in his application.”

10. In view of the above referred Full Bench decision, the point sought to be raised by the petitioner stands fully answered and no fault can be found with the impugned order passed by the Additional District Judge wherein it has been held that it is the valuation disclosed while filing the suit which will determines the appellate forum and, as such, in the case in hand considering the fact that the valuation disclosed in the plaint was less than Rs. 1,00,000/-, the appeal ties before the District Court and therefore, the same has to be heard and disposed of by the District Court. Therefore, there is no case for interference in the impugned order.

11. In the result, therefore, the revision applications fail and are dismissed. The rule is discharged with no order as to costs.

12. Application dismissed.


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